Client Services Director, Kenny Ager, shares his 3 key takeaways from the 3rd instalment of WePlay’s Digital Event Series: The Digital Democracy – An Unrivalled Opportunity for Audience Development.
This month has seen the 3rd instalment of WePlay’s Digital Event Series titled: The Digital Democracy – An Unrivalled Opportunity for Audience Development. 2020 has seen a fundamental shift in sports consumption as fanbases diversify and shift their sporting experience to the online world. COVID-19 has undoubtedly played its part, but more in accelerating a behavioral shift that’s been bubbling away for some time now.
We were delighted to be joined by Brendon Hanley from FIFA and Nick Shaw from Facebook to explore the ever-changing landscape of audience development. Having had time to reflect on what was a fascinating discussion, Kenny shares his three key takeaways from the session below.
1. An ‘Always On’ Content Strategy is Critical
Traditionally, sports content has centred around the tent-pole moments of competition or tournaments. However, fan demand extends far beyond the blow of the final whistle. It is vital for sports organisations to be sharing consistent and quality content outside of the ‘game day’ window. Not only do your fans expect it, but it’s crucial in order to capture the full passion and value of your audiences when the opportunity presents itself. Nick used the amusing metaphor of boiling a pot of water:
“Organisations have got to get out of this peak and trough approach. With platforms like Facebook and Instagram, it isn’t a tap that can be turned on and off; there has to be a consistency to that approach. It’s like trying to boil a pan of water. It takes a lot of effort to get it simmering. You want it to be simmering with a good level of consistency in production across platforms. Then, when you come to your big moments, be that a campaign or a tent-pole moment like a World Cup, if you’re already simmering, you’ve just got to turn the dial up a bit and then you’re off.”
2. It’s More Than Just a Numbers Game
Yes, developing a large audience is the fundamental foundation to unlocking commercial potential further down the road. However, it is tempting to be seduced into the world of vanity metrics. Brendon was compelling in his assessment that vanity metrics can provide a helpful signal of audience intent or of potential intent, but it is the deeper metrics where insights are truly to be found.
Looking beyond obvious signals such as subscriber growth, organisations can develop an approach to identify scales of engagement depth. Nick spoke of the differing levels of attribution that are paid to likes vs comments vs shares at Facebook and a more granular approach can pay dividends. When it comes to audience development, engagement trumps eyeballs.
The secret lies in your existing data. By testing and analysing your content across platforms using deeper engagement metrics and repeated viewing, you can utilise audience signals to maximise the impact of your content. As Brendon concluded,
“Look at what’s working elsewhere, look at what’s working with your own content, but also try to push the boundaries of how things are structured internally.”
3. Your Archive Is An Asset, But Not Your Only One
Our partnership with FIFA for their #WorldCupAtHome was the outcome of the opportunity to deliver on global demand from football fans. However, it wasn’t simply the case of build it and they will come. Both Nick and Brendon were quick to emphasise that simply repackaging broadcast highlights into social platforms fails to entice the digital audience. Instead, it is the inclusion of tools that are unique to social media – polls, voting, watching parties – that capture not only online attention, but online conversion.
Interestingly, despite the enormous success of the award winning #WorldCupAtHome campaign, FIFA are moving away from archive and instead refocusing on original content production. It strikes me that harnessing the power of your archive is simply the first step on the roadmap to audience development success. Developing content that fans want in the format that they want will be the key.
Fans’ insatiable demand for sports content is not diminishing anytime soon. Organisations who are able to use their data-driven insights to look outside-in and tailor their content to their fanbase are presented with an unrivalled opportunity for audience development.
The Digital Democracy has arrived.